Time For A Review?

By Adam Caparell - October 03, 2007

You can thank the NFL and Urban Meyer for the latest rule to come under scrutiny.

Coaches calling last-second timeouts as potential game-winning field goals are kicked has become the "it" thing to do across both the professional and college game with the latest example coming in last weekend's Auburn-Florida game.

Meyer, standing next to an official, called timeout a second before the ball was snapped on Wes Byrum's 43-yard attempt, which was good and caused a premature celebration by the Tigers who thought they had just beaten the Gators in Gainesville.

After a minute of confusion and delirium, Byrum was back kicking and split the uprights again. Meyer's ploy failed, against a true freshman none the less, as the Gators were the fifth Top 10 team to lose Saturday. But the trick or tactic - depending on how you look at it - has been successful for a few.

Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan had one of the notable successful tries at the rule manipulation. In his team's Week 2 victory over Oakland in overtime. Like Meyer, Shanahan called timeout just before the ball was snapped and Sebastian Janikowski's 52-yarder was good. The Raiders thought they had their first win of the season, but were forced to line up and kick it again. Janikowski missed his second attempt and Denver immediately drove down the field for the win.

But sometimes a coach can get burned.

"It's really sort of a 50-50 deal," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "If the guy makes the first one, and you've called timeout, then obviously it looks like a smart play. If the guy misses the first one and they're all dejected and walking off the field, someone's going to say, 'That guy over there gave you another shot.'"

"The coach can either be smart or he can be a dummy and it's like a flip of the coin."

A number of coaches have referred to seeing the practice done in the NFL, but Spurrier said he'd personally prefer to ice the kicker before he lines up, the general method of choice for trying to get into a kicker's head. You see it almost every weekend - Alabama's Nick Saban ice-job of Georgia's Brandon Coutu just may have helped the Tide force overtime against the Bulldogs two weeks back.

"If we're going to call it we're going to call one before they get close to snapping," Spurrier said. "He needs to make one kick at it and let the chips fall where they may. That's more the fair way to do it, but I guess you can do it the other way, the way teams are doing it now."

Meyer, obviously, and Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville don't have any problems with calling a timeout right before the snap. Tuberville, in fact, thought it was good coaching on Meyer's part.

But if more potential wins turn into losses, or vice versa, and coaches begin to complain more and more as the season progresses, the issue surely will be brought up when the NCAA and coaches meet following the end of the season when rules changes are proposed. It's just one more thing to keep an eye on during the season's nine remaining weeks.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 12:39 PM on October 03, 2007

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